“My children will think I left them with nothing. On the surface, this will be one of the hardest things their ignorant hearts will have to go through. But later...much later, they’ll understand that I actually left them everything. I gave them everything.”
“Are you sure about this?” Marcus trusts Abel. He knows the man that’s been through hell and back, and is nothing less of a sage. But he’s not too sure Abel is on his toes today.
“Marcus, always much more than my lawyer, but my friend. I’ve never been more sure about anything in my miserable life.”
“What should I tell them?”
“Heart attack. Heck, they’ll get over not being at the hospital faster than they will over this goddamn piece of paper.”
“Alright then,” and with that, Marcus places a gun into Abels hands, and a pen in the other. Abel, always much more than his client, but his friend.
Abel signs the will with one hand.
Abel signs off with the other.
“...along with the rest of my belongings. Everything else goes to Stella.” The executor finishes reading the last of the will, propping his glasses to the top of his beaky nose. The Logan’s sit in silence for a moment, letting the desires of their departed old man sink in. Just for a moment, before the demure woman on the gold rimmed sofa speaks up.
“Yes...yes, but it’s not Stella, actually….you’re missing the E, yes? Estella.” With her right leg crossed over her left, she straightens her already erect back ever so slightly.
“Is it…” the bird nosed man peers under his glasses again, skimming through the bottom of the page. “Yes….I see….no, it clearly says Stella.” He flicks the crisp page before glancing at the woman with a look that suggested further questioning his reading abilities wasn’t a wise idea. Of course, the Logan’s weren’t the type who experienced not getting their way.
“Right, and what you must understand is that you’re not reading that properly. Honestly...my name is Estella. Stella is the name of his dog.” A saccharine smile plays upon her lips, the kind she employs while talking to people she deems inferior, and this is pretty much everyone apart from her dear Winston.
“Miss Logan, I truly am sorry but what is written in this will is Stella. Perhaps Mr Logan made a mistake, but by any means, wills go through a lot of thorough editing and thought before the final product. I know Marcus, and he’s a good lawyer. He wouldn’t let anything slip. So, verbatim, everything else goes to Stella,” his tone holds a pinch of finality, as do his hands that are making way to lay the papers on the intricately designed alder wood table.
“This is ridiculous, like I said, Stella is his dog...it’s not like he’s bequeathed everything to that-” she stops mid-sentence. A rare occurrence, but for once, she pauses to stop rambling about herself and notices the pitying looks on the others.
“Estella-” her brother starts, but is promptly interrupted by his sister whose voice is showing signs of increasing incredulity.
“He can’t have meant the dog, could he? Could he, mother?” Nothing. Her head snaps to the other end of the sofa, where a man in a tight-fitting grey suit is sitting equally as lineal. “Sebastian?” When met still with the unwavering looks of her family, hysteria rises like it usually does when rich kids get the bad end of a bargain.
“THE DOG? THE FUCKING DOG? No...he wouldn’t do that. He was paranoid yes, but he never meant the shit he said. There is no way in this goddamn world that he’d want that stupid mutt to inherit everything!” Chest rising too fast with tears on the brink of a breakdown, Estella licks her lips, blinks fast, tucks the strands of her auburn hair behind her eare and smooths out her impeccable red dress. It wasn’t like her to get this riled up, and the others noticed it too.
Her mother, a tall woman with the mundane, refined features of those living the American Dream, sets down her red sangria and puts a comforting hand on her daughter's shoulder. “Dear, this is just another of his cruel lessons-”
“Lessons? Come on Mother, even you know they’re hardly lessons. Jokes, cruel jokes, are what they are. I can’t believe this.” She shrugs her mother's frail hand off, and her tears let loose as fast as she had composed herself just moments ago.
“I must say, I have to agree with Estella on this one, Mother. He clearly needed help in his old age, God knows why he refused to listen to us about it. Besides, at least you got the house. His own children...he gave his own children nothing.” Sebastian isn’t usually one to go against the status quo, questioning his mother’s advice. He always knew he had been her favorite, and maybe Estella did too. But what on earth is a dog going to do with all that wealth?
“It's not as if the dog will actually get all the assets. Legally, the new owner of the dog will be able to use the money for it’s care," their mother makes the feeble attempt of pointing out the obvious, refusing to acknowledge the point.
“Gee, thanks Mother! Thank god whoever the next in line is to take care of that idiotic creature will get the wealth instead! Isn’t that a turnout. You know what’s better? The fact that he clearly intended YOU to be the next owner, and not us. And you know what’s better than that? The fact that he’d rather give his property to a dog than his children.” Estella’s voice veers off, lower, until she turns on her matching deep red heels, flips her layered hair and clicks out of the room angrily.
“Well...if that’s all then, I really must be on my way. There’s about five more wills I have to get through today,” the executor speaks fast and walks towards the lumbering oak door even faster. Having to listen to one more second of that pompous family's first world problems would give him a right headache. Although, as he walked down the luscious footpath adorned with exotic flowers on either side , he too couldn’t help but wonder why Mr Logan would leave wealth worth twenty million dollars to a dog, even when he knew he couldn’t.
“UGH, FATHER PLEASE!” Estella’s crazy eyes grow bigger by the second as her whiny voice cuts through the airy room.
“I’m afraid my answer is still no,” Abel replies in the kind of voice that is soft and natural, the kind that his children believe he uses to spite them.
“OH MY GOD?! I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS I LITERALLY-FINE. WHATEVER. I DON’T NEED YOUR BLOOD MONEY. I CAN GROW THIS BUSINESS BY MYSELF,” her voice doesn’t get any lower, and it’s not surprising. Though Estella might seem prim and proper in public, she had never been shy of unleashing her inner demon within the bounds of their house.
“I really do hope so, dear,” Abel responds in the same way. He’s only been this mellow for the past few years, and he didn’t blame his children for thinking it was all part of his master plan to sabotage them.
“Fuck you,” Estella mutters as she turns on her burgundy heels, flips her layered hair and clicks out of the house angrily.
“Lovely,” Abel says, and as if such an outburst hadn’t occurred, he goes back to perusing his antique collection of African elephants.
“Well we know Winston isn’t going to be getting dinner tonight,” Sebastian comments for the first time, eyeing his father suspiciously.
“Cats can fend for themselves. With the amount of mood swings she has, I’m pretty sure Winston has become used to it.” The elephants are beautifully carved with the darkest of wood, bloodwood to be exact.
“If I must say, that was a bit uncalled for, Father. We both know she can’t get that god-awful fur business running without a bit of help from the get go.” Sebastian is trying to figure out his father’s mindset. In fact, he’s been trying to figure it out ever since Abel decided that he would sell the long-running family business one sunny day.
“Good. You just said it, it’s a terrible business. Morally unacceptable.” If Abel stared hard enough, he could almost swear that the elephants were moving.
“Quite rich, coming from you. Have you forgotten our spotlight involvement in the procurement and selling of firearms to propagate the american military?” If Sebastian stared at his father long enough, he could almost swear that a small smile appeared on his lips.
“Son, you don’t have to say the full thing. Is it, perhaps, you still have the dream of taking over that company one day? Like I always promised you?” The smile had extended to Abel’s bloodshot eyes.
“I don’t get it. Was this your fucked up plan all along? Build up my ambitions, keep me waiting, just to let me down at the last second? What was that all about anyway, huh? If you’re such an awakened soul now, with morals or whatnot, how come you didn’t just dissolve the business? You fucking sold it, Dad. What kind of spiritual awakening is that. Huh?” Filler words were something that Sebastian was trained not to have as part of his fitting vocabulary, but they occasionally made an appearance in what he couldn't understand.
Abel thinks for a moment, before tearing his eyes away to stare straight into Sebastians. If they didn’t have bonding father-son moments before, this was definitely going to be the lesson that made up for it all.
“Evil. Evil is a necessity, in this cold world. It’s just like Stalin said, you can’t win a revolution in white gloves. Bloodshed, war, crime, general inhumanity is a constant. And the world can’t go through revolutions if the people who create them don’t. We face revolutions everyday, and you want to know what mine was, and still is? Having to live up to my own father's expectations, filling shoes I was never taught to question. And I did it. I did it because rich families are always rich and if they aren’t then something went wrong. I didn’t want to be the member that did it wrong, so I did it right, and I wanted you to do it right, or at least what I was conditioned believe was right. I did it, for years and years, letting innocent people die at my hands, my hands full of the blood of strangers I’ll never have the privilege of knowing.”
Sebastian doesn’t blink once. He had no idea where this was going. “What are you getting at?”
“Sebastian Logan, I didn’t dissolve the business because there’s too much politics involved, and I know that even if I did, another one just like it would crop up. You know, unfortunately, I realized too late that my revolution wasn’t continuing the family business. It was trying to stop it, but the only way I can is through you. I have to let you go through it in the same way. I have to let you, my family, suffer and do wrong, so that you can finally do right. Taking over the business with the new owners will be good for you. I’ve already struck a deal with Carter Wright. Prove your worth, and there’ll be nothing in your way.”
Sebastian couldn’t believe it. Was this his convoluted version of humour?
“I still don’t get it. You’re contradicting yourself as usual.” Sebastian clicks his fingers against the button rimmed armrest, not daring to believe that his father was sane anymore.
“You’ll get it one day,” Abel says softly, picking up one of the elephants, twirling it around in his now weak fingers.
“I remember, when you were younger, how I used to tell you that this was bloodwood. That we were lucky to be able to have the privilege of affording such a wood in the first place. Bloodwood. Blood money. I guess this whole house has the vestiges of blood, isn't it?” Abel ponders amusedly, setting the elephant down on the glass side table.
“You need help, Father. You really need help.”
“Humans, what dynamic creatures we are. Ironic, how the thing that sets us apart is being sentient, aware of ourselves. Yet, it’s the reason for our downfall. Greed, lust, perennial dissatisfaction. It’s never enough, is it? Sometimes I wish I was an animal. Not having a sense of what it is to want more. To ruin my own kind's lives, due to my own selfish needs. Maybe a dog,” Abel tells his wife, Mariella, one morning where she’s too busy to listen and he’s too idle not to talk.
“Abel, honey, I don’t have time for this right now. Estella just called me over, she has some sort of problem with her fur coat manufacturers….oh and Seb asked me to help him prepare for a meeting with Carter Wright? I had no idea he was in contact with him after, you know...oh well, anyway. I’m off. Have a good day,” she replies indistinctly, with a customary kiss on Abels forehead, and the customary exit of a wife who desn't know her husband anymore.
The small apartment Abel had moved into a few months before he died was quiet, save for the rustling of the trees from the window he had forgotten to close. Mariella treads hesitantly inside, afraid that even a small sound would awaken something unpleasant.
She looks around at the minimalist aesthetic, wondering how he could ever move from their mansion on Bloodlane 6th Avenue, to this. What was even more unsettling was the fact that everything was white; the marble floor, the carpet under the glass table, the pillows on the grey couch, even the hardback chairs around the tiny dining table. The only colour that stood out was a small red dot on a note that was plastered on the glistening white fridge. As she got closer, she realised that the dot was in fact a smudge of blood. A surge of nostalgia washed over her as she picked the note off slowly, and read the sprawly handwriting that was most certainly his.
𝓜𝓪𝓻𝓲𝓮𝓵𝓵𝓪, 𝓘 𝓱𝓸𝓹𝓮 𝓲𝓽'𝓼 𝔂𝓸𝓾 𝓻𝓮𝓪𝓭𝓲𝓷𝓰 𝓽𝓱𝓲𝓼 𝓷𝓸𝓽𝓮. 𝓘 𝓴𝓷𝓸𝔀 𝔀𝓮 𝓱𝓪𝓿𝓮𝓷'𝓽 𝓼𝓹𝓸𝓴𝓮𝓷 𝓲𝓷 𝓪 𝔀𝓱𝓲𝓵𝓮, 𝓪𝓷𝓭 𝓲𝓯 𝔂𝓸𝓾'𝓻𝓮 𝓫𝔂 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓪𝓹𝓪𝓻𝓽𝓶𝓮𝓷𝓽 𝓻𝓲𝓰𝓱𝓽 𝓷𝓸𝔀, 𝓲𝓽'𝓼 𝓹𝓻𝓸𝓫𝓪𝓫𝓵𝔂 𝓫𝓮𝓬𝓪𝓾𝓼𝓮 𝓘'𝓶 𝓷𝓸𝓽 𝓽𝓱𝓮𝓻𝓮.
𝓐𝓷𝔂𝔀𝓪𝔂, 𝓵𝓮𝓽 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓬𝓱𝓲𝓵𝓭𝓻𝓮𝓷 𝓴𝓷𝓸𝔀 𝓲𝓽'𝓼 𝓷𝓸𝓽𝓱𝓲𝓷𝓰 𝓹𝓮𝓻𝓼𝓸𝓷𝓪𝓵.
𝓟𝓵𝓮𝓪𝓼𝓮 𝓯𝓮𝓮𝓭 𝓢𝓽𝓮𝓵𝓵𝓪. 𝓗𝓮𝓻 𝓯𝓸𝓸𝓭 𝓲𝓼 𝓲𝓷 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓼𝓱𝓮𝓵𝓯 𝓾𝓷𝓭𝓮𝓻 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓼𝓲𝓷𝓴.
𝓞𝓱, 𝓪𝓷𝓭 𝓵𝓮𝓽 𝓜𝓪𝓻𝓬𝓾𝓼 𝓴𝓷𝓸𝔀 𝔂𝓸𝓾'𝓻𝓮 𝓭𝓮𝓯𝓲𝓷𝓲𝓽𝓮𝓵𝔂 𝓱𝓲𝓼 𝓷𝓮𝔀 𝓸𝔀𝓷𝓮𝓻.
Just as she finished reading, something soft rubbed against her leg. She didn’t need to look down to know that it was Stella, Abel’s mop dog, and quite frankly the only thing he loved in his old age.
She looked anyway, because she needed to look anywhere else apart from the laconic, dull note. She looked at Stella, her long fur looking like it needed a trim sweeping the pristine floor. And as she looked at the dog, she couldn’t help but think about how she had no idea. She had no idea that she was probably the richest dog in the world right now. Right now, in this tiny, clinical apartment, was a dog that didn’t even know she had acquired all hper owners wealth. All she knew was the present, and that she was hungry, probably.
The present was all she knew.
After all, she’s just a dog.